Posted: 3:17 pm on 19th November 2014

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The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently released details of their funding for Discovery Projects.

The University of Sydney scored big.

Funding included $100,869 over three years for one researcher to produce ‘a comparative cultural history of time,’ and to consider how ‘temporality’ has been represented in literature from the Middle Ages to the present.

Another researcher was awarded a massive $179,700 over three years to ponder the ‘political and religious use of the concept of concord among humanists, philosophers, theologians, poets and political writers during the fourteenth and the fifteenth century in the Italian peninsula.’

The ARC aims to produce ‘cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians.’ All Australians? The market for comparative cultural histories of time probably isn’t quite that broad. Sounds like a waste of temporality—or at least a waste of taxpayer dollars.

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Posted: 12:07 pm on 12th November 2014

coins

In this time of supposed government austerity it always amazes WasteWatch that consultant’s fees seem to flow with ease. We were sparked to look at it again after a report in The Australian about the Victorian government

As reported in The Australian, the Napthine government in Victoria has managed to spend $360 million on consultants over the last 3 financial years.  In 2011-12, nearly $100m was spent across the public sector, rising to $110m the following year and more than $153m last financial year!

Not to be outdone it was reported by the Daily Telegraph, 28 Sept, 2014 that the Baird government in NSW budgeted $92.3 million on consultants in the 2013-14, but ended up paying external advisers $155.2 million — a blow out of $62.9 million.

So the story goes.  Just a quick google on Queensland and the consultancy spending of the Department of Premier and Cabinet shows us – guess what?  Spending on consultants in 2012-13 was $783,937, in 2013-14 it rose to a whopping $1,672,773!

So much for austerity.

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Posted: 10:36 am on 11th November 2014

airport

What a surprise. The abolition of the Life Gold Pass Scheme for former MPs announced in the May budget is under attack.

The scheme provided former MPs and senators with 10 free return airfares within Australia every year. Thankfully MPs and senators elected since 2012 do not qualify for the scheme.

While the politicians fight to save this perk for their former colleagues, we think the government should also be looking at the bill for federal government domestic travel (we hate to think what overseas travel adds up to).

Earlier this year the federal government helpfully published a full list of how much 133 agencies and departments anticipate they will spend on domestic air travel alone, in the five years leading up to July 2015.

The amount, dear reader?

Oh, it’s only a casual $1,343,847,476.00.  That’s right. Over $1.3 billion of your money.

With skype, conference calls and all the others ways of communicating maybe it is time to reassess whether a plane ticket is really necessary.

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Posted: 12:05 pm on 28th October 2014

coinsWastewatch was excited to read the SMH article written by  the NSW Minister for Finance & Services, Dominic Perrottet.  What a refreshing degree of transparency!

It starts with wanting to streamline the 400 shopfronts and 100 call centres operating across departments.

Not to mention the quarter of a billion dollars spent each year on buying, selling and maintaining cars.

Or the tens of millions of dollars used to provide their own IT services when it would be much cheaper to use the private sector

An August update from the Minister for Finance and Services admitted “Spending on small items such as pens, pencils and other stationery all adds up”.

Maybe they are listening to Wastewatch after all.  We will be watching with interest to see if the good intentions become reality.

 

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Posted: 8:49 am on 21st October 2014

ComputersIt seems Government Departments are taking the old saying ‘save it for a rainy day’ a little too literally when it comes to dealing with unallocated electrical equipment.

Senate Estimates has revealed the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services have been coveting a few resources in their back rooms.

Well a few would be an understatement.  The figure is in fact in the thousands.

Currently sitting unused at the Department of Human Services are: 3600 monitors, 364 PC’s and laptops, and 369 tablet devices.  This is estimated as being close to $1.5 million worth of equipment.

Also resting idle at the Department of Social Services in Tuggeranong there are: 496 monitors and 783 PC’s and laptops resting idle.  The Department of Social Services don’t give us a dollar value for each piece of equipment so as not to scare us, perhaps.

Wastewatch thinks that not only could the rental space be used for infinitely more productive activities, but the large swathes of electrical equipment wasting away could be re-allocated elsewhere.

Maybe some donations in-kind could be organised before their value deteriorates too far.

We can only hope further action isn’t saved for another rainy day.

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Posted: 11:56 am on 13th October 2014

car parkBack in July  Wastewatch told you about the possible introduction of public servants having to pay for their parking (heaven forbid!)?

Well we now know that most Government Departments have implemented the new parking policy. Public servants in the parliamentary triangle will be paying $12 a day for their parking from October.

That is, all except for the Department of Defence. The Canberra Times has revealed that Defence has agreed to subsidise $8 out of every $12 for the time being. This leaves these special public servants having to fork out a meagre $4 daily.

According to a spokeswoman from the department the annual cost of their pay-parking subsidies is expected be between $5 and $10 million dollars; a cost that taxpayers will of course shoulder.

We wonder whether car commuters from the outer suburbs in our big cities are happy with this use of their hard earned cash.

 

 

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Posted: 11:03 am on 3rd October 2014

Mobile-Gaming-600

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been in the WasteWatch spotlight before with its game app ‘Run That Town,’ which last time we checked had run up a $60,000 bill courtesy of you, the taxpayer.

To remind readers, the initial cost of the app was about $27, 500.00. The ABS then decided it needed a $30,000 ad campaign to promote an app that has been distributed for free.

Most recently, the ABS decided to drop $47,150.50 on a voice-over service for the app, almost a year after its release.

This ‘free’ app has now cost us over $100,000, and by the looks of this most recent expenditure, this may not be the end of the expense.

The app itself, if you are curious, offers players the experience of using real census data to make planning decisions. That may or may not sound exciting to you—it does not sound like much fun to us—but since you have no say in whether you wanted to fund this app or not, WasteWatch suggests you at least get your money’s worth and download it.

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Posted: 9:00 am on 17th September 2014

movie compA five minute video costing $85, 000—that shakes out to $17,000 per minute. With that kind of budget, you would expect this motion picture to be contending for the next Tropfest awards.

As revealed in Senate estimates on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, two contracts for $35,000 and $50, 000 were paid by the Department to the same production company.

Department Secretary Mike Mrdak explained that the first was to cover the announcement by the government of the Western Sydney infrastructure package. The second was added when it was decided to broaden the presentation to include what would be developed in forthcoming budgets.

At the time of the Senate estimates, the video’s views on YouTube were at 2,358, and four months later that number has risen to 3,377. That’s a cost to the taxpayer of $25.17 per view.

It’s important to note that YouTube views are counted on a view per person basis, so it is impossible to say how many of those views come from repeat viewers within the department itself. WasteWatch felt bad for the taxpayer, so we contributed to the view count as many times as we could.

The video—which outlines the government’s infrastructure investment, growth process and future planning—is similar to one posted by The Guardian of Anthony Albanese, who highlights very similar points.

The per view cost to the taxpayer for that video: zero dollars.

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Posted: 11:41 am on 16th September 2014

lush christmas islandChristmas Island is a place where: vegetables don’t grow; food has exorbitant price tags; essential services are weak; tourism has taken a backseat to mandatory detention.

So what could the 1,600 locals on this heavily forested tropic outpost possibly require most?

Ornamental plants, of course.

Over $38,000 worth, to be exact, which will be installed in 2015 according to government figures.

Local administrator Joe Stanhope recently wrote that federal control of Christmas Island takes too many decisions out of the hands of local residents and leaves them with “no control over or say in the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives.”

In this particular case, Wastewatch certainly has no trouble believing that locals, given the choice, would not opt to spend taxpayer dollars on ornamental plants.

Especially considering that the island already has so much native vegetation that much of it is uninhabitable.

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Posted: 1:52 pm on 1st September 2014

roller shutters2

Ever thought of getting rid of those roller shutters on your shopfront?

Now is the time to do it!

The NSW Government has decided to do taxpayers a favour and rid the City of Sydney of these curtains of gloom, which apparently foster a ‘hostile environment’.

The Shopfront Improvement grants, which have been around since 2010, offer up to match up to $6,000 in expenditure.

Initially several areas were targeted by the program, including Redfern and surrounding suburbs, but Oxford St is the only area currently left eligible.

Perhaps the previously eligible areas were so turned around by the elimination of roller shutters that no further expenditure was thought necessary, especially since ‘anecdotal evidence points to increased turnover for existing businesses.’

Or perhaps the NSW Government decided to rein in spending after a lavish $82,636.50 was disbursed in 2013-14, with every eligible applicant being awarded funds.

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